REVIEW: Sheffield Young Singers, Pennine Theatre, Hallam University

A LARGE audience was noisily enthusiastic at the end of the first performance of A Sheffield Song Book, six songs reflecting 'the city whose name means field of the Sheaf,' to misquote the opening of the first one.

Richard Chew's music for the Song Book, commissioned by SYS, is relatively straightforward and non-complicated, yet serves as a perfect frame for Berlie Doherty's colourful and evocative prose.

Ingenious too, with verbal themes from songs often overlapping into others and not afraid of a bit of nostalgia with snatches of Any Old Iron, You Are My Sunshine, etc, interwoven into the two-part Granny Was a Buffer Girl.

Words and music were ideally pitched for the 60 young voices, three-quarters of them belonging to eight- to 11-year-olds, and all of them enjoying themselves, though the young lad who continued to hold his 'Together we are United' banner up in the Footy Song upside down must have been mortified.

The accompanying montage film shot by siblings of the choir members was imaginatively put together by Lovebytes: seven children, speeded up, cavorting on seven river rocks in Seven Rivers, the still animation in Granny Was a Buffer Girl, being good examples.

First and foremost, though, it was tangible, live evidence of young voices singing that was to be most admired. They were in tune, together and, what's more, sang everything from memory, including the showcase pieces in the first half of the concert – a couple of misfires here, but they mattered little set against the astonishing excellence elsewhere in the choir's desire and harmonious enthusiasm.

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